One of my favorite weekend getaways is located just a little over two hours from me in Seattle. It is a city that is big enough to fit the tastes of all who come, but small enough to where a weekend is a perfect amount of time to be a true tourist. Having spent several weekends here growing up and now as an adult, I have narrowed down the “must-see’s and do’s” if two days is all you have to explore. Whether you’re traveling with friends, young ones, or solo, my tips will be sure to cover the bests of Seattle and make your traveling worry free.
Accommodations: My first stop in Seattle is always to my sister’s home which is located fifteen minutes outside of downtown. While I don’t expect many travelers to have family so conveniently located, I highly recommend using Airbnb or Homeaway for your accommodations. Especially in Seattle where you can find cozy apartments that are walking distance to Pike’s. Trust me, those who are renting out rooms or their full homes have been background checked and be sure to read their reviews. It will make choosing a place to sleep much simpler. Downtown Seattle is pretty swanky and hotels can be as high as $295/night for a basic room. If the idea of staying in someone else’s home is a bit taboo, you can always check out Groupon for deals on hotels. Again, read the hotel reviews and the perks! Some offer free breakfasts! I have used all three and have never been disappointed!
Parking: The best advice I can give on this is to go one of two ways: Either don’t and use a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft (Even locals use this when heading toward downtown and it’s definitely worth it if you’re bar hopping) or if you do you have your own car, map out public parking before making your way toward the area. There are some steep, one-way hills and speaking from experience, it is all the more trying when you are unfamiliar with the area. I DO NOT SAY THIS TO WORRY YOU! Driving and parking downtown is very do-able and the city has taken great efforts to make parking convenient. When you’ve found a lot and driven the streets once, you’ll feel like true Seattlelite.
- Parking Pricing: Varies depending on lots, days, times, and how long you plan on being there. When I went last weekend we spent $7 for 6 hours on Saturday in an underground lot just two blocks from the heart of the market. Here you can find a map and more information on parking!
*I recommend parking a few blocks away from the market! There are amazing shops, restaurants, and bars everywhere that are worth stopping in!*
Now that we have the essentials covered, let’s move on to the fun stuff…
Pike’s Place Market- You cannot go to Seattle and miss going to check out this well-rounded market. While it is known for it’s fresh seafood (continue reading below to see where to get yours hands on some) it is two levels that take up a large portion of the ocean front. Cultures around the world seem to be represented by foods, clothing, and artifacts. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, you will find something here that interests you. I promise.
- Starbucks Coffee: The original. The line will be long, I assure you, but it is a right of passage as a newby. ($3-$7)
- Piroshky Piroshky: Cheap, easy to eat while walking around, and absolutely delicious. Get a sweet and a savory…maybe another one for later when you’re thinking about it after bar hopping. ($3-$6 each)
- Seafood Counters: There are several. If you have the money, ship some home! If not, they have small bites you can eat right then and there such as shrimp cocktails and dungeness crab cups. At Jack’s Fish Spot, I received fresh crab and cocktail sauce in a portion that I was very happy with as it could be shared between two people and hit the spot for $15.
- The Crumpet Shop: Want to feel like royalty? Go here. You can get freshly brewed tea, cappucinnos, and crumpets that are baked daily with fruit spreads, honey, or butter. They even have packaged ones to take home and enjoy later! ($3-$10)
- Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar: I’ve been coming here for fifteen years. If you’re in the mood for an amazing plate of fish and chips, look no further! It is a very relaxed environment and the prices are perfect for any budget. ($6-$15)
- There are fresh baked goods throughout the entire market. Do yourself a favor and get something. You won’t go wrong. ($2-$8)
- You will see all of the flowers as you walk throughout the market. They’re gorgeous and you can buy a huge bouquet for $10.
Downtown Shopping: As I said earlier, downtown is filled with amazing shopping! Everything from speciality boutiques to Nordstrom Rack to Old Navy. There is an actual mall downtown too just in case you forgot to pack something!
Roof-top Lounges: While Seattle is known for it’s rain, it does have it’s gorgeous weather, too. If you go during the right season or weekend rather, you should spend some time up on the rooftop of a hotel enjoying the sights of downtown and the harbor.
- My sister took us to Frolick where you can enjoy a cold one while playing shuffle board or ping pong on their rooftop lounge. I included this in day-time activities, but rooftop bars are a great place for nights too! This particular one had cozy string lighting, a fireplace, and the ping pong tables lit up. Great place to go whether you’re with the friends or for a cute date.
Occidental Square: For those with kiddos, there is a very cute and well thought out park in the heart of downtown where kids of all ages can go and play. In the summer, there is a splash center and year-round they have ping-pong, corn hole, giant chess, and foos ball. Live bands and small eats make it a great place for parents to kick-back, too. Click Here to see daily events happening at Occidental.
Space Needle: The icon of Seattle. Definitely a must-see if you have never been! This magnificent building gives you the ability to see Seattle for all that it is with a birds eye view. When you first enter, there is a gift shop filled with items to bring back as souvenirs for yourself or someone back home. This is also where you purchase your tickets to take the lift up to the top. Tickets vary on age as well as what time of day you go. They have an early (8-9:30am) or late night (10-11pm) special that is $19 per adult. If that is not your style, general admission during the day is $29. Children and Senior rates are also available here.
*Want an even better experience? Make reservations for the restaurant located inside the Space Needle. It is fine dining with an incredible, rotating view. ($$-$$$)*
China Town: About 1.5 miles away from Pike’s Place, China Town is a fun place to go whether you’re a tourist or a local. It is easy to walk and a great place to go if you’re wanting authentic Chinese food. There are several restaurants to choose from for inexpensive dim-sum. For $30, my hubby and I shared six different plates and probably should have brought some home…we chose to go big instead.
Attend a sporting event: Soccer, Baseball, and Football all in one city! Of course, this depends on what season you visit, but it is an incredible experience! Fun fact: The fans of the Seattle Seahawks set a stadium noise record. Be prepared to lose your voice no matter what team you’re rooting for!
Night Time Adventures
Pike’s Place Ghost and Underground Tours: I have done both and they are equally entertaining. The guides do a great job of keeping your attention and whether you believe in ghosts or not, you learn a lot about Seattle’s history. Tickets and pricing can be found here.
Burlesque Shows: While this particular event is not my personal cup of tea, it definitely is a Seattle experience. I know people who love them and people who do not, but it may be worth a try if you’re up for it!
- The Pink Door: Great food, great ambiance! A little more pricey, but it’s located right in the heart of Pike’s Place. Walk to the front entrance and you’ll understand the reasoning behind the name. The Pink Door offers both burlesque and cabaret shows. Not interested or have littles with you? They have aerial shows Sunday between 6:30-8:45pm.
- The Triple Door: This venue offers live music and burlesque while serving delicious Asian inspired fare. Unlike The Pink Door, you have to buy both dinner and the tickets which can add up to $60 or more per person.
Bar Hopping: Whether you do this in downtown, Ballard, or Greenwood you are sure to have a great time. There are countless bars, pubs, and lounges to check-out that will meet your needs. Below are a few of my favorites!
- Gainsbourg– Located in Greenwood, this small bar and eatery is French inspired. Great cocktails, beers on tap, and the food is absolutely delicious. We ordered both charcuterie boards, the poutine, and the Croque Monsieur. The walls are decorated with French paintings, movie posters and even had a French film playing on a small screen. The cozy atmosphere is a great place to begin your night. ($10-$30)
- Radiator Whiskey– Some may call be biased because I know the owner, but a look over the reviews and you’ll know that this is the real deal. The great selection of Bourbon, Scotch and you guessed it, Whiskey can be found in Pike’s Place. They serve an array of beverages that will be sure to leave you satisfied. Go in for Happy Hour or enjoy an amazing plate of BBQ with your drink of choice. ($6-your limit)
*Check out Buggy’s other restaruant, Matt’s in the Market! Food network named it “Seattle’s most enchanting neighborhood bistro.”
- Kells Irish Pub– For those who want a nice stout in a traditional Irish pub.
- Flatstick Pub– A local hangout that serves local brews. My sister is a regular here! Enjoy a drink, play some mini-golf, and bring your dog!
- The Cedar Room– My sister had her engagement party at this nightclub. The dim lighting creates an atmosphere that gets charged as soon as young adults fill the space on the weekends. We had a blast! The live DJ played great music and the bartenders were quick to make your drinks even with the crowd. No food is offered at this bar though so make sure to eat beforehand!
Attend a concert, musical, or ballet: Seattle is constantly visited by well-known artists, plays, and ballets. Attend a show at the famous Paramount Theater or McGraw Hall. Keep up to date on events on ticketmaster.
Have more time and money? For Memorial Day Weekend, we got a group together to try a new fad happening on Lake Union: Hot Tub Boating. Let me just say, I had my reservations as floating around for two hours seemed kind of odd…and what about sanitary? My worries were diminished within five minutes. The temperature can be adjusted, the boat itself fits up to six people, there is a deck on each end where two can comfortably lie out, there is a great speaker system that connects with your phones bluetooth, and the water in the boat is drained and filled after each appointment. There is even storage to put drinks, snacks, and towels. For $60 a person, this was worth it!
*Tip: Technically you are not suppose to have alcohol, but the owner was really cool and never checked our cooler. Be responsible, of course. Someone does have to drive the boat. Oh, and bring some water guns. Seriously.*
Seattle is an incredible city with so much to offer! I hope that you try out some of my favorites and find some new ones of your own! Even as a frequent visitor, I have yet to try out every bar, restaurant, and attraction. I would love to hear about your trip or good finds! Please feel free to comment below with questions or tips of your own!